Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson

name = Kenneth Lane Thompson

image_width =
caption = Ken Thompson (left) with Dennis Ritchie
birth_date = birth date and age|1943|2|4
birth_place = New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
death_date =
death_place =
residence =
citizenship =
nationality =
ethnicity =
field = Computer Science
work_institution = Bell Labs
Entrisphere, Inc
Google Inc.
alma_mater =
doctoral_advisor =
doctoral_students =
known_for = Unix
B (programming language)
Belle (chess machine)
author_abbreviation_bot =
author_abbreviation_zoo =
prizes = Turing Award
National Medal of Technology
Tsutomu Kanai Award
religion =
footnotes =

Kenneth Lane Thompson (born February 4 1943), commonly referred to as Ken Thompson (or simply ken in hacker circles)Fact|date=July 2008, is an American pioneer of computer science notable for his work with the B programming language and his shepherding the Unix and Plan 9 operating systems.


Thompson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.. He received a Bachelor of Science in 1965 and Master's degree in 1966, both in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from the University of California, Berkeley, where his Master's thesis advisor was Elwyn Berlekamp.

In the 1960s, Thompson and Dennis Ritchie worked on the Multics operating system. While writing Multics, Thompson created the Bon programming language. The two left the Multics project as it was becoming too complex, but they took the lessons they learned to Bell Labs, where, in 1969, Thompson and Ritchie were the principal creators of the Unix operating system. There, Thompson also wrote the B programming language, a precursor to Ritchie's C.

Thompson had developed the CTSS version of the editor QED, which included regular expressions for searching text. QED and Thompson's later editor ed (the default editor on Unix) contributed greatly to the eventual popularity of regular expressions, previously regarded mostly as a tool (or toy) for logicians. Regular expressions became pervasive in Unix text processing programs (such as grep), and even in some modern programming languages like Perl; they are a central concept in Rob Pike's sam text editor. Almost all programs that work with regular expressions today use some variant of Thompson's notation for them.

Thompson also developed UTF-8 (a widely used character encoding) together with Rob Pike in 1992.

Along with Joseph Condon, he created the hardware and software for Belle, a world champion chess computer. He also wrote programs for generating the complete enumeration of chess endings, known as endgame tablebases, for all 4, 5, and 6-piece endings, allowing chess-playing computer programs to make "perfect" moves once a position stored in them is reached. Later, with the help of chess endgame expert John Roycroft, Thompson distributed his first results on CD-ROM.

Thompson's style of programming has influenced others, notably in the terseness of his expressions and a preference for clear statements.

In late 2000, Thompson retired from Bell Labs. He worked at [ Entrisphere, Inc] as a fellow until 2006 and now works at Google as a Distinguished Engineer.


Turing Award

In 1983, Thompson and Ritchie jointly received the Turing Award for their development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the implementation of the UNIX operating system. His acceptance speech, " [ Reflections on Trusting Trust] " presented the backdoor attack now known as the Thompson hack, and is widely considered a seminal computer security work in its own right.

National Medal of Technology

On April 27 1999, Thompson and Ritchie jointly received the 1998 National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton for co-inventing the UNIX operating system and the C programming language which together have led to enormous advances in computer hardware, software, and networking systems and stimulated growth of an entire industry, thereby enhancing American leadership in the Information Age." [ Ritchie and Thompson to Get National Medal of Technology] " Bell Labs pre-announcement] " [ Ritchie and Thompson Receive National Medal of Technology from President Clinton] " Bell Labs press release]

Tsutomu Kanai Award

In 1999, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers chose Thompson to receive the first Tsutomu Kanai Award for his role in creating the UNIX operating system, which for decades has been a key platform for distributed systems work. " [ Ken Thompson Receives Kanai Award for Impact of UNIX System] " Bell Labs press release]

= =Quotes = =

* "When in doubt, use brute force."
* "We have persistent objects, they're called files."
* "One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code."
* "If you want to go somewhere, goto is the best way to get there."
* "The X server has to be the biggest program I've ever seen that doesn't do anything for you."
* "The act of breaking into a computer system has to have the same social stigma as breaking into a neighbor's house."
* "The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code."


External links

* [ Ken Thompson Bell Labs page]
* [ Reflections on Trusting Trust]
* [ Video of Thompson and Ritchie receiving the National Medal of Technology award]
* [ Photos] Computer Chess Comes of Age ( [ Computer History Museum] )
* [ Photo] - Ken Thompson at the Deep Blue vs. Kasparov match in Philadelphia
* [ Photo - with Garry Kasparov]
* [ Video of Interview with Ken Thompson] Computer Chess Comes of Age ( [ Computer History Museum] ) ( [ alternative] )
* [ Unix and Beyond: An Interview with Ken Thompson] by [ IEEE Computer Society]
* [ Transcript of an interview with Ken Thompson] – Interview by [ Michael S. Mahoney]
* [ Ken Thompson: A Brief Introduction] - by The Linux Information Project (LINFO)
* [ Jargon file entry on Ken Thompson]
* [ A New C Compiler by Ken Thompson]
* [ Reading Chess paper by HS Baird and Ken Thompson] on optical character recognition

NAME= Thompson, Kenneth Lane
DATE OF BIRTH= Birth date and age|1943|2|4|mf=y
PLACE OF BIRTH= New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ken Thompson — (links) und Dennis Ritchie (rechts) Kenneth „Ken“ Lane Thompson (* 4. Februar 1943 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) ist ein amerikanischer Informatiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ken Thompson — es uno de los creadores del sistema operativo Unix. Nació en 1943 en Louisiana, Estados Unidos. Trabajó en la empresa Bell Labs donde creó en 1969 con Dennis Ritchie el sistema operativo Unix. Creó también el Lenguaje de programación B …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ken Thompson — Kenneth Lane Thompson Ken Thompson (izquierda) y Dennis Ritchie. Nombr …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ken Thompson — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Thompson. Kenneth Thompson (à gauche) et Dennis Ritchie (à droite) Ken Thompson (né Kenneth Lane Thompson le 4 février 1943 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ken Thompson (disambiguation) — Ken Thompson may refer to:* Ken Thompson (programmer) (born 1943), who wrote the B programming language (the precursor to C), and was a principal creator of the UNIX operating system. * Sir Kenneth Thompson, 1st Baronet (1909 − 1984), British… …   Wikipedia

  • Thompson (Familienname) — Thompson ist ein englischer Familienname. Herkunft und Bedeutung Der Name Thompson bedeutet „Sohn des Tom“ (Kurzform von Thomas) und ist damit ein Patronym. Varianten englisch: Thomson dänisch, friesisch, niederdeutsch: Thomsen Bekannte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thompson shell — Original author(s) Ken Thompson Initial release 1971 Operating system Unix License Unix shell The Thompson shell was the first Unix shel …   Wikipedia

  • Thompson (surname) — Thompson is an English patronymic surname with a variety of spellings meaning son of Tom (or Thomas) . According to the 1990 United States Census, Thompson was the seventeenth most frequently reported surname, accounting for 0.27% of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Ken (Vorname) — Ken ist ein männlicher Vorname, der vor allem im englischen Sprachraum verbreitet ist. Er bildet die Kurzform des Vornamens Kenneth. Daneben gibt es die japanischen Namen Kenichi, welche als Ken im lateinischen Alphabet ausgeschrieben werden.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thompson-Shell — osh ist eine Unix Shell, die die letzte Version des frühesten Unix Befehlsinterpreters (Thompson Shell) reimplementiert. Der Name osh steht für old shell, alte Shell. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Merkmale 2 Geschichte 3 Literatur 4 Weblinks // …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.